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Why I Don’t Have a Choice but to Hide My Bipolar Disorder

Most people are pretty surprised when they learn I have bipolar disorder. They say I seem pretty “normal” and they wouldn’t have guessed there was anything going on with me at all. I’m accustomed to hiding my symptoms away and keeping my struggles to myself, for the most part… not because I am stubborn or reclusive, but because I don’t know that I have much choice.

I am the wife of a stay-at-home dad and mother to three children under the age of 12. My career is the one we sunk our money into — getting my master’s degree and long days at the office — while my husband took care of the kids. So, we have a great arrangement that meets our needs.

But with such an arrangement comes great pressure and the need to hold myself together at all costs to keep my family afloat. If I lose my grip, the ship starts to sink. My husband will have to find an entry-level job after 11 years out of the workforce, the house will likely have to be sold, we will have to move, the kids will have to switch schools and leave friends behind, and our lives will be salvageable but turned upside down.

So I put up, shut up, take my meds and keep the mess in my head as a conversation between me, my husband, my therapist and my psychiatrist. It’s just part of the deal. I have an amazing life that also requires a tremendous amount of strength and energy on my part to maintain, but I am willing and I am happy to do it.

I am endlessly grateful that I have the benefit of being able to hold myself together. I have had short-term hospitalizations, and I know, one day, I might not be so fortunate as to have a rough patch quickly remedied with a five to seven-day stay and a brief medication change.

A shout-out to all of you out there who do this every day, whether it’s by yourself or with a partner. You hold your families on your backs and you do it while you’re struggling. You don’t gripe; you just do it. Keep up the amazing work and know you are not alone.

Photo by Javan André on Reshot